Tongue Tied

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My days often blur together at camp, but not in a way that is inconvenient.  Time has a different meaning here, and although we follow a schedule, it’s more forgiving then the world outside camp. I keep track of the days in terms of activities and trips, because that is what my days consist of… activities and trips.

All too often John gets a text message or phone call to let him know that my day off is changing.  I have back to back trips, there is a trip that I really want to be part of, or we don’t have the staff here needed to facilitate class.  Whatever the case may be, more often than not my days are changed, which is never more than a very mild inconvenience.

There are four weeks left to camp, four weeks of activities and trips, two more closing days and one more opening.  Four weeks to try to teach a new group of girls the skills that I’ve perfected over the last few months.  Four weeks to explore the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina, four weeks and I have to return to the harsh reality of the real work force.  Four weeks to accomplish my goals as an instructor, because this summer is about my growth as much as it is about the campers.

These next four weeks will blur together as haphazardly as the last 6 have, and I will spend my time covered in dirt and bug spray. Some nights I will sleep on the hard ground surrounded by giggles and incessant chatting.  Days will be spent fighting to be heard over the singing in the dining hall.  I will watch as they run, scream, laugh, and cry.

I took the job at camp selfishly because I wanted to experience the outdoors in a new way.  But I got more than I bargained for here, new friendships, new skills, a new meaning of the word instructor.  I have learned just as much from these girls as they (hopefully) have learned from me.

As these next four weeks fly by around me, I will sit quietly and watch campers teach each other.  I will encourage children to push themselves just a little outside their comfort zone.  I will meticulously tie my knots, fill out my forms, drive with a van full of kids.  Tired and a little worn down, I will face these next four weeks like they were the first.  Because as tired as I may be, I still get choked up and tongue tied when they accomplish that bar, hit that goal, or climb that mountain.

 

 

 

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Find Your Serenity

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It’s a funny thing experiencing the largeness of the wilderness.  Standing on a ledge and staring up at the mountains above. It’s surreal to be totally surrounded by the beauty of it all.  At the same time, it can be terrifying, standing on the ledge that drops hundreds of feet into a waterfall, or being trapped at that altitude in a thuderstorm.

Worrying about these types of situations is my job, to teach others to be prepared, but to overall be prepared enough for each person on my trip. Often it can be exhausting and makes me forget why I love the outdoors.  Working 18 hour days, spending nights in the woods with children who are not entirely equipped to handle it, often I feel burdened and fear I can’t lead them like I should.

But then, I bring myself back, sometimes all it takes is a quiet hike in the woods with a co-counselor.  To take the time I need for myself to reconnect with the woods, to find wild blueberries, and identify new plants.

Whatever our jobs may be, and wherever they happen to lead us, it is so important to take that step back occasionally.  We are all in fear of losing interest, and it can be avoided by taking the necessary steps to ground ourselves.

Here I sit, halfway through my 11-week summer, exhausted and overwhelmed.  But I remind myself that when these next 5 weeks end I will come out of this stronger and more educated.  That it is just as important for me to find my serenity as it is to help the next camper reach their goals.  Without my direction, their progression doesn’t happen.

So I lose myself in the woods for the day, and I come back refreshed and ready to lead my next trip. Finding my serenity, I find my love for my job, each and every week.

Homecoming

19621151_10154916235589773_5954282615432018847_oThe decrease in elevation, even this little of a change, always has a profound impact on my mood.  I left camp today for a short break in my summer, returning home to the lower ground, missing the mountains almost as soon as they were out of sight. The drive home is less than spectacular, crossing state lines to sand and long needle pine trees, I watch in my rearview as the mountains slowly disappear.  But I drive closer to home, closer to the three dogs I’ve left for the summer, closer to my SO who supported my decision all along, closer to my home – although it lay a mess from a recent fire – and my warm, comfortable bed.  I’m giddy, and the drive takes longer as I fight anticipation.

My homecoming is not unlike the one I have after each trip, anticipating the comfort of a real bed and a warm shower. While I’m out the trail consumes me, immersing myself in my trip I enjoy it completely, but the closer I get to home the more I long for the everyday comforts of home.  I love camp, I love the mountains that I get to stay in, and the whole time I am there I am completely immersed, swallowed by the magic.  But the closer I get to home – or my day off – the more I miss it, and the conveniences.

So tonight I will cuddle in my bed, and gladly lose my spot to one of my dogs.  I will stand a little too long in my shower enjoying the consistent water temperature and pressure.  I will childishly demand his attention the entire time I am home.  And when it’s time for me to leave, I’ll be somber and homesick.  But I will return to the mountains, and my heart will be full in a different way.